Originally, I wanted to write this post about repentance. Today, seminaries have forgotten the importance of repentance and have failed to teach about it biblically. In my own study, I soon realized, that “Godly Sorrow” was drastically misunderstood by almost all modern Christians. The very core of repentance is the biblical congruency of Godly sorrow.
Godly sorrow is the work of the Holy Spirit in the unsaved individual, and the saved individual. It humbles the proud and arrogant heart of man, its foundation is humility, brokenness and a contrite spirit. Godly sorrow tearfully confronts our sin and bends our knees before a Holy God. It produces the repentance that turns us from the darkness to the light of God. (Acts 26:18)
So why does godly sorrow matter to us?
“Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” (Jude 1:14-15 NKJV)
Can God judge righteously the sins of mankind? Can man articulate a defense against God, based on ignorance or confusion of the law, or of a failure by God to articulate a clear path to understand His plan for salvation?
Biblical scriptures make it clear that Christianity is the only faith that argues for free will. However, the Bible also makes clear that God, in His sovereign will, has provided every opportunity to believe in the Gospel so that we are without excuse.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,” (Romans 1:18-20 NKJV)
The scripture states very plainly, that it is not God’s desire for anyone to go to hell. Our desires to rebel, our actions of rejecting Jesus Christ, our willingness to suppress the truth, and our endless love for deception, produce consequences of a guilty judgment, leading to sentence of eternal death in hell. Hence, God provided Jesus as a ransom to save us from our sins. Jesus is our salvation from the punishment we deserve.
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,” (I Timothy 2:3-6 NKJV)
God’s greatness is shown, in that He can execute His sovereignty over man through divine intervention, while allowing mankind to freely choose a life in Christ verses one of death; paid by the wages of sin (Romans 6:23).
There are several ways that God guides man to the truth, and therefore He can righteously judge us for rejecting His plan of Salvation.
1. God prepares us for the life we are to be born into. He literally designs our DNA in anticipation of our hardships so that we will be equipped to endure trials and tribulations, of a fallen world. He prepares us for each day we face, by coding our DNA with his thoughts for us.
“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!” (Psalms 139:13-17 NKJV)
2. God provides the time, place, and environment that we are to live in so it leads us to belief in Christ. Even our national ancestry and ethnicity points us to the truth of God’s love for us. National borders are created by God, proving that globalism is the lie of satan, so that he might deceive us.
“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;” (Acts 17:26-27 NKJV)
3. God provides the Holy Spirit to guide us to all truth and to convict all the world of sin, before we ever believe.
“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John 16:8-9, 13 NKJV)
This scripture correlates to a stern warning by Jesus in the book of Revelation. Seven times Jesus tells the individual, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” After each warning, the Scripture then proclaims a blessing. “To the one who overcomes”. Godly sorrow is the work of the Holy Spirit, confronting sin. The Holy Spirit is speaking to you. Are you listening? Will you be the overcomer?
Is the Holy Spirit convicting you of sin? Are you being convicted of the righteousness of Jesus. Do you understand that the judgment of your sin is death? Are you experiencing sorrow for your behavior, if so; is your sorrow from God?
“Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (II Corinthians 7:9-10 NKJV)
It is clear that God loves us immensely that He creates the environment for us to seek Him. God pours out His Holy Spirit upon us to convict us of sin, and to lead us to all truth. It is His love for us that reveals our own wickedness, which separates us from His Holiness. God hates evil but loves humanity.
“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.” (Psalms 34:18 NKJV)
It is when we acknowledge our sin that truth causes our heart to sorrow in a godly manner. This godly sorrow produces repentance, which leads to our salvation in Jesus Christ. Godly sorrow is the work of the Holy Spirit, creating brokenness.
“The pangs of death surrounded me, And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid. The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.” (Psalms 18:4-6 NKJV)
Godly sorrow is the work of the Holy Spirit, helping us to acknowledge sin. Why must we acknowledge our sin, before God?
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (I John 1:8, 10 NKJV)
The denial of sin in our lives is a deception, that blinds us from recognizing the truth; we deceive ourselves. One must therefore acknowledge sin and confess it to be forgiven. Notice the contrasting verse to those who deny sin verses those who confess their sin to God.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”(I John 1:9 NKJV)
It is in this confession of Godly sorrow, that God produces His work of repentance, in us, which leads to our salvation by grace.
“For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isaiah 57:15 NKJV)
In the next post we will examine why repentance is the work of God and not of man.